4 month old suddenly lost interest in milk (and has not started solids)

4 month old suddenly lost interest in milk (and has not started solids)

"I had a great routine with my baby. She was in the 75th percentile, gaining weight well and *mostly* happy. She was having a bottle every 4 hours. But ever since she was 4 months old, she went from drinking her bottles quickly to refusing her 150 ml bottle and arching her back in protest. In a day, she would only have as little as 400 ml of milk. I thought this was teething, but it's been going on for 1.5 months! What's happening?"

It's so frustrating as a parent when your baby refuses milk. As a first time mum, I was worried. Is this common? Why didn't anyone at my mothers' group experience it? I brought her to the GP because I was worried she's not taking in enough liquid. The GP told me to monitor her for the next 3 days. I thought I had ticked off all the possible causes of this new behaviour:

Is the milk the cause?

At 4 months old, my baby had been having formula. The formula we use was not expired and perfectly okay to drink. There's been no change to formula or the temperature at which the milk was served at. 

Should I change teat size?

Was she getting frustrated at the flow of the milk? Possibly. So, I changed it to a teat with a larger hole and no improvement too. 

Is baby not feeling well?

She didn't have a temperature, and still as happy as ever. She didn't seem unwell or hurt. Everything else about her seemed normal.

Is baby teething?

I thought this was the case because it seemed to be the logical explanation. Everything was going well, and suddenly something changed. It must be teething. She's also salivating a lot. I was excited and anticipating the arrival of her tiny two teeth. But days turned into weeks, and I started thinking if there's another reason. 

Could it just be her salivary glands developing, and she's not really teething? 

Is baby distracted?

My first response was no. It's not like I fed her in a crowded place and she was too distracted. We're just home in our living room alone with the TV switched off. How could she be distracted? I was too quick to assume that this wasn't the reason. 

Until I got desperate. 

I didn't want to change our perfectly functioning routine. But who knows? Maybe a dark quiet room might just be the answer

What worked

Feeding her in a quiet and dark room helped. She was less distracted by her surroundings and would have about 80-100 ml each time. So when my mum visited and was dangling a soft toy in front of her while I was trying to feed in the room, I had to gently explain to my mum that her method of coaxing her to drink was doing quite the opposite. 

Another thing that worked was feeding her when she was about to drift off to sleep. I would put the teat in her mouth and she would suck and finish the milk. We've been warned that feeding to sleep is bad. But hey, it worked for us. 

She was able to increase her milk intake to about 600 ml a day. And I was just so happy that we could figure out a way to get her to drink more milk. 

*Sigh of relief*

I've been told to just relax and enjoy her given she's not unwell or dehydrated. Babies will not starve themselves. I know that. But knowing that didn't stop me from feeling worried or slightly stressed out. 

For the first time mamas who are experiencing a similar situation, I hope this article is helpful to you xx





Katy said:

This is me right now! Exclusively breast feeding, and the only time I can get her to have a decent feed is before she goes down for a nap, I’d be fighting her for the whole two hour awake period to get something in her. But I have no idea how much she is taking in at all :( so past week I have been feeding her to sleep and she will have the occasional snack when I can get her on. So same here with the dark room, less distractions around. Hoping to find another way as I really want to teach her how to self settle asap! Xx

Chris C

Chris C said:

Thank you for this article. It is exactly what I am experience. So reassuring to read.

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